Dog Ear Cleaner Buyer’s Guide

Cleaning your dog’s ears can help prevent infections, but over-cleaning can cause irritation. Here’s what you need to know, according to a vet.

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Dog Ear Cleaner Buyer's Guide

Cleaning your dog’s ears can help prevent infections, but over-cleaning can cause irritation. Here’s what you need to know, according to a vet.

The Daily Dog is reader-supported. This page contains affiliate links; read more here.

Merrick’s chewy treats are the perfect mid-value training treat.

  • Packed with protein and even contain omega fatty acids
  • Made with natural ingredients and zero artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Produced in small batches for the highest quality possible

Bocce’s Bakery Sunday Roast Training Treats boast an impressive 4.7 out of 5 stars from Amazon reviewers.

  • Made with limited, quality ingredients
  • Are only 4 calories per treat
  • Made in the U.S. with locally sourced ingredients and zero artificial flavors

Nutro Crunchy Natural Biscuit Dog Treats

With over 18,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4.8 out of 5 stars, Nutro is clearly doing something right with their crunchy biscuit treats.

  • Have the convenience factor of being preserved with mixed Tocopherols (vs. artificial preservatives) and are safe and healthy for dogs of any size
  • Do not contain any artificial flavors or colors
  • Are only 5 calories per treat

Stewart treats seem as high-value as they come in terms of training!

  • Been the “preferred choice of pet trainers for over 40 years”
  • One ingredient makes it a great choice for pups with food sensitivities or allergies
  • Do not contain additives or preservatives

Information as of 6/30/22

The Daily Dog does not provide veterinary advice. All information is general in nature and for informational purposes only. Always consult your veterinarian.

Ear infections are common for many dogs and can cause hearing loss if left untreated. Bacteria and yeast are normal in a dog’s ear, but infection occurs when conditions allow these pathogens to multiply. Dogs affected by allergies and dogs with floppy ears that trap moisture are at higher risk for chronic or recurrent ear infections.

When to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Dogs with healthy ears may not need their ears cleaned, while some dogs need weekly cleaning to help prevent infection. Since over-cleaning can cause ear canal irritation, you should know when to clean your dog’s ears to ensure you don’t cause a problem. A clean, healthy ear is typically pink and odorless and has no debris inside, whereas odor or discharge from the ear indicates cleaning is necessary. Dogs with allergies and long ears—and those who frequently swim—usually need more regular ear cleanings. Your veterinarian can help you determine how often you should clean your dog’s ears. Inspect your dog’s ears regularly to check for odor and discharge. This helps ensure their ears are healthy and acclimates them to having their ears handled to make cleaning easier. If your dog’s ears are red, inflamed, or painful, contact your veterinarian before cleaning, as they may have an infection or ruptured eardrum. 

Factors to Consider When Buying Dog Ear Cleaner

Several dog ear cleaner products are on the market, and you can find many recipes for homemade ear cleaning solutions online. Veterinary-approved ear cleaning products are the best option to ensure the product is effective and doesn’t cause irritation. Other factors to consider include the following:

  • Purpose — Are you purchasing the product for regular ear cleaning, or does your dog have an ear infection that requires cleaning? For routine ear cleaning, a mild ear cleaner is ideal for removing dirt, wax, and pollen gently. If your dog has an ear infection, your veterinarian will prescribe an appropriate cleaner based on the pathogen that is causing the problem.
  • Ingredients — Read the label to check the active ingredients. Avoid products that contain alcohol or hydrogen peroxide since these substances can damage sensitive ear tissue. Common active ingredients found in dog ear cleaning products include the following:
  • Salicylic acid and lactic acid — These substances have antimicrobial properties and can help prevent yeast and bacteria from growing inside the ear.
  • Ketoconazole — Ketoconazole is an antifungal agent used to treat yeast infections.
  • Hydrocortisone — This mild steroid helps reduce irritation and itchiness.
  • Aloe vera — Aloe vera can help naturally clean the ear and reduce inflammation and odor.
  • Type — Dog ear cleaners include liquid products and chemically treated wipes. Wipes are easier to use and less messy than liquids, but they aren’t appropriate for deep cleaning.
  • Scent — A mild scent can help mask unpleasant ear odor, but products with a pungent smell may bother your dog. 


Homemade ear cleaners often include harsh ingredients, such as peroxide or alcohol, which should not be used. Professional cleaning products are formulated to gently clean your dog’s ear and protect delicate ear structures. 

Steps to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Ear cleaning is easier if you handle your dog’s ears when they are a puppy. This helps them get used to the process, so they more willingly accept the handling. The following is a step-by-step guide to cleaning your dog’s ears:

  1. Assemble your supplies — Gather a towel, ear cleaning solution, cotton balls or gauze, and tasty dog treats.
  2. Find a comfortable position — Place small breed dogs on an elevated surface and have them sit with their back facing you. Have large breed dogs sit on the floor between your legs with their back facing you. 
  3. Hold your dog’s ear open — Grasp your dog’s ear flap gently but firmly and hold it vertically to straighten out and expose the ear canal.
  4. Apply the ear cleaner — Fill your dog’s ear canal with the cleaning solution. Use an alcohol-soaked cotton ball or gauze pad to clean the bottle tip before and after applying the solution to prevent spreading bacteria or yeast.
  5. Massage your dog’s ear — Continue to hold your dog’s ear flap vertically and gently massage their ear base for about 30 seconds to allow the cleaning solution to break up debris in the ear canal. 
  6. Remove debris — Use a cotton ball or gauze to remove debris from your dog’s ear flap and upper ear canal. Only go as far as your finger can reach, and never use a cotton-tipped swab to avoid damaging your dog’s eardrum.
  7. Let your dog shake their head — Allow your dog to shake their head so the remaining ear solution and debris inside the ear canal can exit. You may need to duck and cover for this step!
  8. Remove debris — Remove any remaining debris with a cotton ball or gauze.
  9. Dry the ear — Use a towel to dry your dog’s ear thoroughly.
  10. Praise your dog — Praise your dog throughout the process, and provide treats once the ear is clean.
  11. Repeat the process — Repeat the process on the other ear.

Seek Veterinary Care for Ear Infections

If your dog’s ear is inflamed, painful, and malodorous or is producing discharge, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Ear infections are painful and require treatment by a veterinary professional. If not treated appropriately, ear infections can spread to the middle and inner ear, causing hearing deficits and severe neurological issues. Underlying issues such as metabolic conditions or allergies can contribute to ear infections, and your veterinarian can help determine the best way to address your dog’s primary problem. 

Keeping your dog’s ears clean can help prevent ear infections. Use this guide to help you determine what product is best for your precious pup.


jenny DVM

Jenny Alonge, DVM

Jenny Alonge received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Mississippi State University in 2002. She then went to Louisiana State University, where she completed an equine medicine and surgery internship. After her internship, she joined an equine ambulatory service in northern Virginia, where she practiced for almost 17 years. In 2020, Jenny decided to make a career change in favor of more creative pursuits and accepted a job as a veterinary copywriter for Rumpus Writing and Editing in April 2021. She and her husband adopted two unruly kittens, Olive and Pops, in February 2022.

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